From Spore Series

GameSpot – DarkSpore Impressions: first look

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One more to add:

The plot in Darkspore sounds very grandiose and involves an experiment by an ancient race of omnipotent beings known as the “Crogenitors,” who created all living DNA in the universe but experimented with a new “exponential DNA” that was unusually powerful but highly unstable. It seems that one ambitious member of this mysterious group not only fused the unstable DNA with his own, increasing his own power substantially, but also created an army of monsters powered by this new genetic material that destroyed most of the other Crogenitors, leaving the last few survivors to flee to deep space with a squadron of heroes stuck in a cryogenic slumber until a solution to the problem could be deduced by the powerful computers of those last remaining DNA architects.

As the game begins, the solution to the exponential DNA invasion has been found: You. You awaken from your sleep as a genetically enhanced hero with the power to oppose the invasion head-on, and fortunately, you won’t be alone. Rather than force you to focus on developing a single character that belongs to a single character class with a limited skillset, Darkspore will actually let you select a team of three different hero creatures to take into battle and will also let you gather a huge collection of alternate heroes for you to use and develop as you see fit.

full preview at GameSpot

Destructoid – DarkSpore first look preview

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This a chaotic game and one which was designed to be a cooperative experience. Up to four players may team up against the Darkspore, with incremental difficulty and loot rewards for higher player counts. At the end of stages, players are given the choice of walking away with their prize or pressing on for better kit. Players who choose not to participate simply drop out of the game while the rest go forth. Since the game has no experience system, good loot is the only way to increase the abilities of your Living Weapons, which will no doubt factor into more than a few decisions.

The Spore Creature Creator has been remade entirely to support the new graphics engine Darkspore is using. It’s used to customize the look of your Living Weapons, giving it that player creation feel which so enchanted many fans of Spore. Most changes are only cosmetic, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to play dress-up with your creatures.

continue on reading over at Destructoid

DarkSpore first look from GamePro

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Another preview to add to the mix, this time from GamePro!

What you need to know:

  • There’s a lot of Diablo to it. Players control one creature at a time in a team of three and navigate dungeons entirely by clicking where they want their creature to go or what they want it to attack. There are some nominal button presses to change creatures or use special attacks. The whole point of the game, says Maxis, is fat loots.
  • There’s also some Left 4 Dead and some Torchlight. Darkspore can be played solo, but the game is intended for co-op and player versus player. The developers looked at Left 4 Dead and Torchlight to craft monsters that force co-op buddies to stick close to each other and create levels that tempt them to split up.
  • But wait, there’s Magic, too. One of the new developers at Maxis comes to them from Wizards of the Coast and he brought some experience from Magic: The Gathering to Darkspore in the form of collectible fat loots for upgrading creatures, balance-of-power ideas for the different types of monster (ranged, tank, healer), and a double-or-nothing system (see below).
  • The freshest idea here is the double-or-nothing system. Once players complete a level and receive a point ranking on each of the objectives they did or didn’t accomplish, they are offered a choice — take one piece of fat loot and finish the level or continue to a different level that’s way harder for the chance to win two pieces of even fatter loot. Lose that second level, though, and you don’t get anything.
  • It’s an always-online game. You can fiddle with item management and maybe a bit of character customization via the game’s website, but this is a product that requires an internet connection to play.

JoyStiq – DarkSpore preview from EA Showcase 2010

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That’s right — although based off of Spore (but running on a brand-new engine) the game won’t have you controlling your own creations. The Creature Creator does return, however, and is used in customizing the placement of the various upgrades.

When choosing to beam down from your starship to a planet, you will see a lineup of enemy types that you’ll encounter. This gives you and your friends enough information to decide which three characters from your collection you’ll want to deploy. The trio can then be switched between on the fly, albeit with a brief cool-down period afterward. The idea is to use the characters’ various abilities strategically against what the Left 4 Dead-inspired “AI director” decides to toss your way.

Darkspore’s player creatures also have certain abilities that, in multiplayer, can be used by everyone playing. Creatures with a “haste” ability will automatically make nearby players move faster, for instance.

As you can probably tell, Maxis isn’t venturing very far from established territory with Darkspore, although it is a relatively unexplored space for the developer. This can either work in its favor, should it use its fresh set of eyes to spot unique new gameplay possibilities, or work against it if — as is the vibe I’m getting now — it decides to stick pretty close to familiar genre conventions.

preview here

1Up – DarkSpore preview

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A 2 page preview on DarkSpore which goes in-depth on how the game plays out – a must read!

The main carry-over from Spore is the Creature Creator (often described as the Spore’s best feature). Said Creator serves as the underlying technology for every character in the game — whether it’s a player-controlled genetic hero or an A.I.-enemy. In fact, said Creature Creator tech allows for rapid character creation. Lead producer Thomas Vu states, “We can make guys really really fast.” Systems designer Paul Sottosanti adds, “Things that would take three weeks for another company to make — to model and animate properly from the ground up — we skip almost all of that and get a guy into the game in under a day.”

One interesting effect: the genetic heroes will be hand-designed by Maxis personnel, but there will be numerous contests for users to use Spore’s Creature Creator to create enemies in the game for Maxis to include (in addition to the enemies created internally). Executive producer Thomas Perry wouldn’t finalize how many or how often these contests would happen, but at least there will be a way for players and fans to contribute to the final game. It might not be the free-for-all procedurally populated madness of Spore (so don’t expect to fight a planet of penis monsters), but this more-gated method might result in better quality.

full preview at 1UP

Get to know DarkSpore: FAQ by Community Manager, MaxisCactus

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MaxisCactus published a short and sweet FAQ on DarkSpore as well as a few answers on Spore in general over at both the Sporums and the newly launched DarkSporums.

Q: Maxis is known and loved for making simulation games. Why did you decide to make an Action-RPG?
A: In addition to being seasoned simulation and technology experts, Darkspore team members are big action-RPG fans—we’ve played everything from The Legend of Zelda to Fallout 3. In fact, many of our team members came to us from development groups that produced high-profile titles like Diablo 3, Warhammer, and Mass Effect 2. Darkspore enables our team to combine its extensive simulation, ground-breaking technology, and action-RPG production experiences by taking some of the strongest aspects of our Spore technology, and melding them with a core gaming genre that many of us here at Maxis are passionate about: action-RPGs. As you find out more about the game, you’ll see that the technology we’ve evolved from Spore enrich the action-RPG experience of Darkspore in a fun and unique way.

Q: Will you make Spore 2?
A: We aren’t announcing any other games at this time; our focus is on making Darkspore a fun, unique, and innovative action-RPG.

Q: Will you be releasing any more Spore expansions or parts?
A: While we’re focusing on bringing Darkspore to life right now, we haven’t forgotten about the success of Spore—with more than 200,000 active players and over 145,000,000 creations uploaded to the Sporepedia since launch, the Spore community is alive and well. We currently support and cater to the Spore audience and community, and we’ll continue to do so even with Darkspore in development.

Q: Can I bring my Spore creatures/creations into the Darkspore game?
A: While players won’t be able to bring their Spore creatures into Darkspore as playable Heroes, we are encouraging the Spore community to bring their creativity to Darkspore in another way. We’re asking you, the Spore community, to help us create enemy characters for the game! More details on how you can contribute will be revealed soon!

Q: Does Darkspore have an editor?
A: Yes! Darkspore takes the best-in-class Creature Editor technology from the original Spore game, and reinvents it for customization where stats truly matter for gameplay. This is coupled with three unique character classes, five different hero types, and tons of collectible heroes. Using parts they collect throughout the game, players will be able to create a deeply customized and upgraded collection of heroes that are ready for any battle.

Q: Does Darkspore have its own Sporepedia?
Each player of Darkspore will have their own customized collection of heroes. Darkspore is about playing together with, or against, your friends online. When you play online, you’ll be able to see the heroes that your friends have customized and upgraded. And as you encounter new enemy characters in the game, you’ll be able to see an ever expanding encyclopedia that includes each one.

Q: Why is it called Darkspore?
Darkspore is a brand-new game from Maxis. Darkspore is built on the technology developed for Spore, such as the tech used in the award-winning Creature Creator. The inclusion of the Creature Creator technology in Darkspore is absolutely essential to the gameplay, as it allows players to update, customize and make meaningful changes to their Heroes that will aid them in battle.

Q: Will there be any opportunity for Spore players to get to preview Darkspore before release?
A: Yes! Community involvement has always been a top priority for EA and Maxis, and we want to make sure our key community members are able to get a look at the game and share their experiences before Darkspore is released to the general public. Stay tuned for more information.